The war of nutrition labeling systems

At the end of 2016, there was a war in France between several nutritional labeling systems. The challenge was: which one would be recommended by authorities based on the opinions of ANSES (French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety)?

Among the proposed systems, “nutri-repères,” “nutri-score” (5C) and the “SENS” (Simplified Nutritional Labelling System) system, proposed by supermarkets via the Trade and Retail Federation (FCD – Fédération du Commerce et de la Distribution).

Nutritional labeling systems: the winners and non-losers

The nutri-score system won and is recommended by the public authorities.

SENS, which was compared to nutri-score in the ANSES report, received an honorable mention. Consumers found during field tests that it was easy to understand. The authorities’ opinion isn’t binding and the food industry can decide whether or not to use this system on its labels!

SENS: 4 levels of nutritional consumption

SENS, proposed by supermarkets in France, is based on a method developed by a Committee of scientists. Some 1,066 foods were classified using 4 colors according to the recommended frequency of consumption based on their nutritional quality:

  • The green logo is associated with foods to consume very often. It’s comprised of low- or unprocessed foods (water, fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, pasta, meats, etc.).
  • Blue identifies foods that can be consumed every once in a while (non-alcoholic drinks, eggs, mixed dishes, bread, vegetable fats, etc.).
  • Food classified as orange are those for which moderation is recommended (cheese, pizza, deli meat, jam, animal fats, cookies, etc.)
  • Finally the group of foods meant for occasional consumption (sweets, crème fraîche and sugars) are indicated with purple.

SENS, système d'étiquetage nutritionnel préconisé par la grande distribution

Limitations of the SENS system

Consumers that want to defeat their enemy (salt, sugar, fat), want to be able to quickly identify this key information. SENS categorizes all crème fraîche products together, regardless of their fat content (which can vary from 8 to 30%). Salted fats are also not discriminated against according to their salt content, unlike with the the nutri-repère system.

Each system has its limits and… the industry is not immune to errors and… lack of objectivity in its scores. Youmeal has the ability to objectively verify and correct nutritional data.

Plus, not everything is indicated on the label! Specifically, the carbon footprint of making a product is not included. Youmeal calculates the environmental impact of your food. This is an important factor for environmentally conscious consumers.

Your goal as a food professional is to know the full nutritional value of your products. Youmeal provides you with accurate and objective information on this, plus the environmental impact of your choices. Want to learn more about Youmeal indicators? Test your recipe